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Mudda slams controversy over comment by Army chief comparing pace of growth of Ajmal’s party with BJP; speakers say issue being blown out of proportion

In a seminar, Army chief Bipin Rawat had said “population dynamics” of the Northeast region cannot be changed due to the influx of refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh. He said: “There is a party called AIUDF, if you look at… they have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP has grown over the years.”

Reacting to this, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) president Badruddin Ajmal said it was “shocking” for an army chief to indulge in politics. He posted on Facebook: “General Bipin Rawat has made a political statement, shocking! Why is it a concern for the Army chief that a political party, based on democratic and secular values, is rising faster than BJP? Alternative parties like AIUDF and AAP have grown because of misgovernance by big parties. By making such a statement, isn’t the chief of Army staff indulging in politics, something which is against his constitutional mandate?”

Rawat, however, clarified that his comments about the rise of a political party were neither political nor religious.

Thursday’s edition of Mudda, APN’s daily current affairs show, discussed the issue. Moderated by Anurag Singh, the guests were former diplomat JK Tripathi, Congress spokesperson Onkar Nath Singh, BJP spokesperson Anand Sahu, security expert Maj Gen AK Chaturvedi (retd), cleric Maulana Sufiana Nizami and APN consulting editor Govind Pant Raju.

Tripathi said though whatever the army chief said is true he should not have made any comments which might give mileage to a certain political party, neither should he have criticised any political party. He added: “It is alright to say such things as a citizen of India but not as an Army chief. In the seminar he was speaking as the Army chief. But we should also see that he did not indulge in any politics. He did not say that BJP should have grown like the AIDUF or criticised the growth of AIDUF.”

Singh also said it was inappropriate for the Army chief to have made such comments. He asked the central government to take immediate action against him.

Sahu said: “The Army chief clarified that his comments were not political. He wanted to focus on demography. While talking about it he just gave an example. He did not give a biased example.”

Maulana Sufiana Nizami said one cannot compare the growth of political parties as such. He said: “There are hundreds of political parties in India. Some grow, some don’t. It is not right to compare the growth of AIDUF to BJP’s. The Army chief should resign and take full responsibility for his words.”

Chaturvedi agreed with Tripathi that Rawat’s intentions were not to indulge in politics. He said: “This statement was not for the media. This was a serious seminar where intellectuals were present. But yes, if he hadn’t taken the name of any political party, it would have been better. On the other hand, we should not forget that the real topic of his speech was illegal immigration.”

Raju said it is not right to take out 15 seconds from his 48-minute speech and make a political scandal out of it.

Compiled by Usha Rani Das

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